- Exploring College student attitudes’ toward the environment:
Implications for Environmental Justice Education
Tiffany Baffour & Jill Chonody
Social work has long focused upon issues of social justice; however the emergence of global environmental problems is under-emphasized in social work practice and policy. In its 2015 Educational and Policy Standards, the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) a new requirement for environmental justice to be incorporated into all U.S accredited social work programs. Yet, there are few curricular resources to aid in this integration and a dearth of research within social work. As social work globally embraces inter-professional education, this study examined how students in other disciplines embrace pro-social environmental attitudes and behaviors. To date, no comprehensive review of the literature is available, which could inform pedagogical interventions in social work and related disciplines. Thus, a scoping review of available research on college students’ attitudes toward the environment across disciplines was undertaken to redress this gap. Results of this review (N = 25 articles) indicated that students are rated environmental issues high to very high, expressed moderate to high concern for the environment, and report three to five pro-environmental behaviors. Similarly, environmental attitudes were moderate to moderately high. All of these findings are promising, yet they also suggest that more work is needed. Sociodemographic variables are inconsistent in their associations and not always included. Understanding how to educate citizens about the environment, motivate greener behavior, and support sustainability are important societal goals. Increasing the level of environmental education is an important factor in promoting pro-social attitudes and behaviors. Further exploration into the nature of pro-social attitudes and how they can be cultivated among both social work students and practitioners is an important undertaking for future research given that social workers commonly advocate for vulnerable persons impacted by environmental injustice including women living in poverty, women of color, and displaced populations due to climate change.
Conference Paper, Refereed,
- Australia and New Zealand
- South Africa